The federal government tabled legislation outlining new firearms restrictions on Monday. 

Though local gun-owners are unimpressed with elements of the proposed legislation, other groups— including some that work with survivors of domestic abuse—are more optimistic about other provisions in the government’s bill.

Proposed restrictions include several measures designed to limit gun violence in Canada. These include revoking licenses of those involved in domestic violence or criminal harassment and a “red flag” system that would require an individual to surrender their firearm should the court determine them a danger to themselves or others.

The bill also initiates a federal buy-back program of banned assault-style weapons and a cap on the market for handguns. Though it is not an outright ban on handguns, the freeze on their purchase, import, and transfer effectively ends the market for them in Canada.

Kody Mann, owner of the hunting and sporting goods store Backcountry in Fort St. John, has seen a big reaction from gun-owners (and gun purchasers) in the last few days.

“A lot of it is out of frustration,” he said.
“Everyone up in this neck of the woods, when someone’s telling them no, then we don’t like hearing no.”

In the short term, he has seen a significant uptick in handgun purchases. Anyone who was considering it, but unsure, is pushed to make a purchase. 

“It is spurring people to go and get it…They are just jumping and biting the bullet,” Mann said. 

Handguns cannot be used legally for hunting or carried for protection, according to Mann. Instead, they are solely used for sport.

So the ban, to Mann, does not make any sense. “It’s not going to help one bit of anything in the crime world. It’s not based on science. It’s not gonna help anything in the long run,” he said. 

MP for the Prince George–Peace Region–Northern Rockies Bob Zimmer agreed strongly in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Since first being elected in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government have repeatedly shown a complete lack of respect for our outdoor community,” the statement said. “At the same time, gun crime has gone up steadily, despite their arbitrary bans and their complicated and expensive buyback program.” 

Where some opposed to the bill focused on provisions banning handguns used for sport, others saw value in provisions designed to keep survivors of domestic abuse safe from gun violence. 

Heather McGregor, CEO of YWCA Toronto, recognized that the proposed legislation, particularly the “red flag” measures, provides mechanisms to remove guns from people who pose a risk to others.

According to her, gun violence is a gendered issue. “Guns figure prominently in violence against women and increase the likelihood women will be killed.”

Tiffany Butler, executive director of the National Association of Women and the Law was optimistic about the direction this bill takes by recognizing gendered elements of gun violence.

“[It] addresses the heightened risk of gun violence for victims of domestic abuse and others seeking protection orders.”

With files from the Canadian Press.

Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a news reporter for who recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of arts in Media + Communications. She was born and raised just outside of Fort St. John. She began reporting for her university’s student newspaper and interned with Ottawa Life Magazine where she developed a passion for asking questions, telling stories, and the written word. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, snowboarding, or reading novels.